Denver's 2021 draft class has been touted as one of the best in recent memory for the Broncos, as most of their picks have taken the field this season.
Led by first-round selection CB Pat Surtain II and second-round pick RB Javonte Williams, the impressive roster of first-year talent contributed immediately for the Broncos. Because of that success, Pro Football Focus selected Denver’s draft class as the second-best group from the 2021 draft.
"The depth of the Broncos' class is what really sets it apart," PFF's Trevor Sikkema wrote.
While many of the Broncos' rookies took the field this season, there were a few who contributed a significant number of snaps at their positions. Surtain led the pack with 860 snaps, with Williams (524), G/C Quinn Meinerz (594) and ILB Baron Browning (502) all carrying a heavy workload as well.
"The team was able to get really strong contributors at four different positions, with the highest grades coming from Javonte Williams and interior offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz (67.4)," Sikkema wrote. "Cornerback Patrick Surtain II recorded a 65.5 overall grade on the season, which is lower than you would expect, but his tape is incredibly encouraging."
Denver's rookie class has already started to pay dividends, and Surtain and Williams both look like foundational players at their positions for years to come. As a whole, the Broncos 2021 draft class has proved one of the best in the NFL this season, pointing to a bright future in Denver.
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Following the end of the 2021 NFL regular season, PFF evaluated the entire class of rookies and ranked the top 25 based on their performances this season.
The Broncos had two first-year standouts make the list — Surtain at No. 16 and Williams at No. 25.
Surtain eased into a starting role in Week 2 and continued to improve as the season went on. He has established himself as one of the top rookie corners in his draft class, and should be a big piece of Denver's defense in the years to come.
"Making the jump from college to the NFL is tough for cornerbacks," PFF's Anthony Treash wrote. "Surtain was seemingly unaffected by the dreaded learning curve, though. After a few poorly graded games in the first quarter of the season, the Bama product has stepped up and been a legitimate CB1 for Denver."
Surtain has set himself apart as he has excelled in coverage while also contributing as a big-play threat for the Broncos.
"Since Week 7, he is one of the 25 highest-graded players at the position and has allowed more than 60 yards in coverage just once this season," Treash wrote. "He leads the rookie class in pass breakups plus interceptions with 12."
Williams earned a spot on the list as well, thanks in part to his penchant for breaking tackles and creating big plays in seemingly impossible situations.
"Williams is an angry runner," Treash wrote. "His 0.31 missed tackles forced per attempt as a rookie — the highest in the NFL — backs that up."